Antigen tests are immunoassays that detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, which implies current viral infection. Antigen tests are currently authorized to be performed on nasopharyngeal or nasal swab specimens placed directly into the assay’s extraction buffer or reagent.
Our tests return results in approximately 10 minutes. Antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 are generally less sensitive than real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) and other nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) for detecting the presence of viral nucleic acid.
The antibody test involves a blood test to find out if someone has antibodies which indicate that they have had COVID-19 in the past. When the body becomes infected, it produces antibodies to fight the infection. Therefore, if the antibodies are present in the blood, it indicates that an individual has had COVID-19.
Antibody testing is important as it will tell us how many people have had COVID-19. Not everyone who has had symptoms has been tested and not everyone who has had coronavirus has had symptoms. It’s impossible to know the true number of cases, spread and actual death rate of the virus until an antibody testing service is made available to everyone.
Knowing who has and has not had the virus is critical in determining areas which have been more or less badly affected and planning the next steps in managing the pandemic.
How does the antibody test work?
Blood is taken by a healthcare professional from our office then tested to find out if antibodies are present in the blood. The test results are back within 2-5 days with a positive or negative result for 2 types of antibodies.
What does it mean if you test positive?
Within a couple of days of taking the test, you’ll be notified of your results. There are three possible results after taking an antibody test: positive, negative or indeterminate (borderline).
Immune or not?
A positive result means that COVID-19 antibodies have been found in your blood, which indicates that you have previously been infected by coronavirus. This does not mean that you are immune to coronavirus.
Scientists still don’t know just how much immunity you gain from a COVID-19 infection so even if you test positive, it’s possible that you could be infected a second time or carry the virus to infect others. You still need to follow the social distancingand hygiene measures set out by the government, even if you’ve previously had the virus.
It is also important to realise that even if doctors do discover in future that having antibodies confers immunity, it is not known how long this immunity lasts for. Immunity to other forms of coronavirus appears to wane quickly. In one study involving a coronavirus which causes the common cold, some people exposed to the virus a year after developing antibodies were re-infected, although none developed symptoms of a cold.
If the test gives you a negative result, it means that you don’t have the antibodies to indicate that you have had coronavirus so you haven’t had COVID-19.
You can also have an indeterminate result, meaning that the test can’t confirm either a positive or negative result. You may be asked to take the test again in a couple of weeks’ time.
Whatever your result, it’s equally important that you behave sensibly, follow the official guidelines and protect yourself and others from the virus just as you would have before the test.
If you are experiencing any symptoms such as fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, new loss of taste or smell, sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting and/or diarrhea you may currently have the coronavirus and need a different type of test for this to be determined. We are not offering the virus test at our clinic but can refer you out to a clinic that can help you get the treatment you need. If you have been exposed to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19 in the last 14 days it is recommended that you self quarantine for minimum 10 days.
If you would like to get your COVID-19 antibody test please call to make an appointment at 214-217-8633.